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Zhang Ziyi

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhang.
Ziyi Zhang
Zhang at the 2006 BAFTAs
Chinese name 章子怡
Pinyin Zhāng Zǐyí (Mandarin)
Origin People's Republic of China
Born February 9, 1979 (1979-02-09) (age 31)
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Beijing, China
Occupation Actress
Years active 1996–present
Official Website
Ziyi Zhang (Chinese: 章子怡pinyin: Zhāng ZǐyíWade-Giles: Chang Tzu-i; born February 9, 1979) is a Chinese film actress. Zhang is coined by the media as one of the Four Young Dan actresses (四大花旦) in the Film Industry in China, along with Zhao Wei, Xu Jinglei, and Zhou Xun.[1] With a string of Chinese and international hits to her name, she has worked with renowned directors such as Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark, Lou Ye, Seijun Suzuki, Feng Xiaogang and Rob Marshall.

Early life

Zhang Ziyi was born and raised in Beijing, China. Her parents are Zhang Yuanxiao, an accountant, and Li Zhousheng, a kindergarten teacher.[2][3] She has an older brother, Zhang Zinan (born 1973). Zhang joined the Beijing Dance Academy at the age of 11. When Zhang's parents suggested she attend the school, she was skeptical. While at this boarding school, she noticed how catty the other girls were while competing for status amongst the teachers. Zhang disliked the attitudes of peers and teachers so much that, on one occasion, she ran away from the school.[3]
In 1996, Zhang entered China's prestigious Central Academy of Drama (regarded as the top acting college in China) at the age of 17.


At the age of 19, Zhang was offered her first role in Zhang Yimou's The Road Home, which won the Silver Bear award in the 2000 Berlin Film Festival.
Zhang further rose to fame due to her role as the headstrong Jen (Chinese version: Yu Jiao Long) in the phenomenally successful Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for which she won several awards in the West, such as Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Toronto Film Critics Association Awards and Independent Spirit Awards. Zhang's first appearance in an American movie was in Rush Hour 2, but because she didn't speak English at the time, Jackie Chan had to interpret everything the director said to her. In the movie, her character's name, "Hu Li", is translated from Mandarin Chinese to "Fox".
Zhang then appeared in Hero, with her early mentor Zhang Yimou, which was a huge success in the English-speaking world and nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe award. Her next film was the avant-garde drama Purple Butterfly by Lou Ye, which competed at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. Zhang went back to the martial arts genre with House of Flying Daggers (十面埋伏), which earned her a Best Actress nomination from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
In 2046, directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring many of the best-known Chinese actors and actresses, Zhang was the female lead and won the Hong Kong Film Critics' Best Actress Award and the Hong Kong Film Academy's Best Actress Award.
Showing her whimsical musical tap-dancing side, Zhang starred in Princess Raccoon, directed by Japanese legend Seijun Suzuki, who was honored at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
In 2005, Zhang landed the lead role of Sayuri in the film adaptation of the international bestseller Memoirs of a Geisha. There was a slight controversy in Japan about a Chinese woman portraying a Japanese Geisha. For the film, she reunited with her 2046 co-star Gong Li and with her Crouching Tiger co-star Michelle Yeoh. For the role, Zhang received a 2006 Golden Globe Award nomination, a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and a BAFTA nomination.
Zhang has also been known to sing, and was featured on the House of Flying Daggers soundtrack with her own musical rendition of the ancient Chinese poem, Jia Rén Qu (佳人曲, The Beauty Song). The song was also featured in two scenes in the film.
On June 27, 2005, it was announced that Zhang had accepted an invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), placing her among the ranks of those able to vote on the Academy Awards.[4]
In May 2006, Zhang became the youngest member to sit on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival. In the fall of 2006, Zhang played Empress Wan in The Banquet (Yè Yàn 夜宴), a film set in the Tang Dynasty.
Zhang provided the voice of Karai in the TMNT movie that was released on March 23, 2007. She later starred in Forever Enthralled (Mei Lanfang) (2008) and appeared in The Horsemen (2009) with Dennis Quaid.
Zhang announced plans to produce a film adaptation of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. However, in January 2010, it was announced she had quit the project. It is unknown if this is a temporary or permanent move.[5]


Advertising billboard in Hong Kong of Zhang Ziyi fronting Omega watches
Zhang is the face of Maybelline, Garnier and Shangri-la Hotel and Resort Group. She is also a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics and a spokesperson for "Save the Children," a foster-home program in China.

Personal life

Soon after Zhang's debut in Zhang Yimou's The Road Home, rumors arose regarding a possible affair between the actress and the older director. Zhang Yimou was previously involved in an extramarital affair with actress Gong Li, whom he similarly debuted and with whom Zhang Ziyi was quickly compared. However, no relationship between the two has been confirmed.[6]
Hong Kong and Taiwanese media have often pushed at ties between Zhang and co-star Jackie Chan.[7] This was fueled in part by photos that emerged of the pair during celebrations of Chan's birthday on the set of Rush Hour 2.
Zhang for a while was publicly linked with Fok Kai-shan, grandson of Hong Kong business tycoon Henry Fok.
In the July 2006 issue of Interview Magazine, Zhang Ziyi spoke of her movies' contents and being careful about the roles she takes on, especially in Hollywood.
Yes. Otherwise I could have done a lot of Hollywood movies. After Crouching Tiger I got a lot of offers, but I turned them down because they were all victim roles--poor girls sold to America to be a wife or whatever. I know I have the ability to go deeper, to take on more original roles than that. That's why I really appreciated Geisha, because it allowed us to show the world what kind of actors we are and what kind of characters we can play--not just action, kick-ass parts.[8]
She stated in an early interview that if she had not become an actress, she would have liked to have been a kindergarten teacher, as she "[s] children!"
In January 2007, Zhang was spotted holding hands and kissing her new boyfriend at a New York basketball game. The man was identified as Israeli multi-millionaire and venture capitalist, Vivi Nevo. The two were again seen together at an Oscar party in Los Angeles. Nevo, who has previously been tied to model Kate Moss, is a major shareholder in Time Warner and an early backer of The Weinstein Company with whom Zhang is purported to have a multi-film deal. Zhang Ziyi and Nevo are currently engaged.[9][10] Zhang has also obtained Hong Kong residentship through the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme for her contribution to the local film industry.[11]

Other information

  • Of the characters making up her name, Zhāng (章) is her surname (not to be confused with the more common Zhāng 张 which is a homophone but written with a different character), Zǐ (子) means 'child' or 'esteemed person', and Yí (怡) means 'joy' or 'happiness'. She has appeared in English language films under the name Ziyi Zhang. In an interview, she stated that the name change was her publicist's idea of a way to appeal to Western audiences.


Year English Title Chinese Title Role Director
1996 Touching Starlight (TV) 星星點燈 Chen Wei Sun Wenxue
1999 The Road Home 我的父親母親 Young Zhao Di Zhang Yimou
2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 臥虎藏龍 Jen Yu Ang Lee
2001 Rush Hour 2 尖峰时刻2 Hu Li Brett Ratner
The Legend of Zu 蜀山傳 Joy Tsui Hark
Musa 武士 Princess Bu-yong Kim Sung-su
2002 Hero 英雄 Moon Zhang Yimou
2003 Purple Butterfly 紫蝴蝶 Cynthia/Ding Hui Lou Ye
My Wife is a Gangster 2 我老婆是大佬2 Gangster boss Jeong Heung-sun
2004 2046 2046 Bai Ling Wong Kar-wai
House of Flying Daggers 十面埋伏 Mei Zhang Yimou
Jasmine Women 茉莉花開開 Young Mo/Young Li/Young Hua Hou Yong
2005 Princess Raccoon 貍御殿 Princess Tanuki Seijun Suzuki
Memoirs of a Geisha 艺伎回忆录 Sayuri Nitta/Chiyo Sakamoto Rob Marshall
2006 The Banquet 夜宴 Wan Feng Xiaogang
2007 TMNT - Karai Kevin Munroe
2008 Forever Enthralled 梅蘭芳 Meng Xiaodong Chen Kaige
2009 Horsemen 骑士 Kristen Jonas Åkerlund
Sophie's Revenge 非常完美 Sophie Yimeng Jin
The Founding of a Republic -

Lost for Words - Lin Zhen Susanne Bier
2010 Waiting - Wu Manna Peter Chan

Awards and nominations

Awards nominated

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA
BAFTA Awards
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
Golden Globes
Golden Horse Film Festival
Hong Kong Film Awards
Image Awards
Kids' Choice Awards
MTV Movie Awards
Online Film Critics Society Awards
Satellite Awards
Screen Actors Guild Awards
Teen Choice Awards
  • 2001 - Film - Choice Breakout Performance

Awards won

Hundred Flowers Awards
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
  • 2001 - Most Promising Actress
Golden Bauhinia Awards
Golden Rooster Awards
Hong Kong Film Awards
  • 2005 - Best Actress for 2046
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards
  • 2005 - Best Actress for 2046
Independent Spirit Awards
MTV Movie Awards
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards
Young Artist Awards

Magazine recognition

  • Ranked 2nd of the 100 Sexiest Women by FHM Taiwan (2001).
  • Named one of the 25 Hottest Stars Under 25 by Teen People Magazine (2001).
  • Named one of the 25 Hottest Stars Under 25 by Teen People Magazine (2002).
  • Ranked #91 in Stuff magazine's "102 Sexiest Women In The World" (2002)
  • Voted in at #100 in FHM's Sexiest 100 Girls of 2002, UK edition. [June 2002]
  • Forbes magazine's China edition ranked her the second most popular celebrity after NBA player 'Yao Ming' . [August 2004]
  • Named by Entertainment Weekly in their 'The Must List' 2005. Listed 38th out of the 122 people and things the magazine "loves" this year, Ziyi was the only Chinese to be included.
  • Selected by Southern People Weekly magazine as 'Chinese Top Ten Leaders Of The Younger Generation' in 2005.
  • Listed in People's '50 Most Beautiful People' List in 2005.
  • Listed in TIME's World's 100 Most Influential People. They called her "China's Gift to Hollywood".
  • Ranked one of the '100 Most Beautiful Women in the World' in the July 2005 issue of Harpers & Queen magazine. It was her first time on the list. She was ranked number 15.
  • Included in People's 100 Most Beautiful People in the World the second year in a row in 2006. This is now her third appearance on the list.
  • Voted in at #86 in FHM's sexiest women in the world in 2006. She had not appeared in the list since 2002.
  • Topped Japanese Playboy's "100 Sexiest Women in Asia" list and was featured on the cover. (April 2006)[12]
  • Voted #1 in E!'s Sexiest Action Stars list in summer 2007.
  • Ranked #3 in Japanese magazine CLASSY's 'Super Perfect Head-to-Body Size Ratio List' in January 2009.

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